A fascinating team in South East Asia, Malaysia have a surprisingly long, though not terribly successful, history. However, the side's youngsters have improved quite a bit and played some high-profile friendlies in the last few years against the likes of Brazil and club teams Manchester United and Chelsea.
However, the way to the 2006 FIFA World CupTM for the squad proved too long and hard after a disastrous streak of six defeats. They showed a glimpse in the return leg with China where they nearly toppled the group favourites. But a late winner from Li Jinyu made the difference. Following their exit in the preliminary rounds of the last FIFA World Cup, their attempt to reach a first major tournament again failed with their elimination from the 2004 Asian Cup. They did start off that competition with impressive draws against Iraq and Bahrain, as well as a win over Myanmar. But, three straight losses exposed the side's inexperience and physical limitations.
The 13-team M-League has helped to bolster the country's football base and create an emerging class of stars. One of these is Indra Putra from M-league champions Perak, who is the team's playmaker.
However, even the talismanic Indra Putra proved to be of little help with Malaysia's disastrous campaign in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, where the co-hosts crashed out with three straight defeats at the hands of China, Uzbekistan and Iran.
This misfortune is not helped by the preliminary draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South AfricaTM, which saw them again pitted against one of the continent's big boys - Bahrain. Some over-par performances, a proper game plan and the necessary extra ounce of luck is required if they want to create a surprise against the formidable West Asians.